Summer gardening on a budget


Now we are talking about shopping for your landscape.

The poor economy has had a domino effect on local businesses, and wholesale nurseries are no exception. Several wholesale nurseries in the Houston-area are now open to the public. And in many cases, the prices are 20 to 40 percent off the retail price.

Open since 1939, Bradshaw's Wholesale Nursery in Alvin has up to 20,000 shrubs for sale and 30 acres of various container trees from 15 gallons up to 300 gallons.

For 71 years, Bradshaw's has been strictly wholesale, but this spring, Eddie Bradshaw opened his nursery to the public.

"This year, with the economy, we decided we needed to try to avoid some of the pitfalls of the lack of sales because 75 percent of what we did was developer work," Bradshaw said.

When developer worked dried up, Bradshaw went retail.

"Prices are less than the local garden centers, the box stores and things like that, unless they are running a special," Bradshaw said.

At Bradshaw's, we found 65-gallon red maple trees for $345 each. Expect to pay $500 retail.

Seven-gallon avocado trees cost $74 when the retail price is about $95.

This 45-gallon palm is $225 wholesale; at a local nursery it's $350. But we found competitive prices on ground cover plants like plumbagos, grasses and small shrubs.

And just because you're buying wholesale, there is no need to buy in bulk.

"Happy to sell one planter, or if you want a whole truck load," Bradshaw said.

Over at Great Western Growers, the wholesale company's main clients are landscapers, but they are also open to the public seven days a week.

"So we can come in here and look around, pick some stuff out and get prices that are a whole lot better than other nurseries," shopper Kevin Wentzel said.

Wentzel found 3-gallon knockout roses for $16.50 and a flat of vincas for $12.96.

"As a wholesale nursery, they cut their prices by not having all the signage, by not having the cute little cards, by not having the prices listed on everything," said Randy Lemmon, gardening expert and host of GardenLine.

Lemmon says shopping at wholesale nurseries is a great way to not only save money, but wholesalers carry a huge selection of inventory you won't find in retail markets. But Lemmon cautions you need to walk in having done your homework.

"You got to know what you need going in because you are not going to have someone there walking and talking to you," he said.

There are a handful of wholesale nurseries that are open to the public:

Bradshaw's Nursery
3684 FM 517
Alvin, Texas 77511

Great Western Growers
10655 Stancliff Rd
Houston, TX 77099-4377
(281) 530-0550

Shades of Texas
2618 Genoa Red Bluff
Houston, TX 77034

Houston Plants & Garden World (they negotiate wholesale prices for people buying in bulk.)
16726 North Freeway
Houston, TX 77090

20415 Katy Freeway
Katy, TX 77450

17100 Northwest Freeway
Houston, TX 77040

Houston Palm Tree (they negotiate wholesale prices for people buying in bulk.)
20420 I-45 South
Webster, TX 77598
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